allusions* - Creative Writing Program Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Adrienne Rich, June Jordan, and Derek

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    English Department 215 Glenbrook Road U-4025 Storrs, CT 06269 860-486-2324 www.creativewriting. uconn.edu

    Design by Marissa Stanton

    In this issue: Camille T. Dungy Claire Kilroy Rigoberto González

    Spotlight on student and faculty writing achievements

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    CREATIVE WRITING PROGRAM

    Susan Stewart read from her work on April 1st as part of the 52nd Annual Wallace Stevens Poetry Program at the Konover Auditorium of the Dodd Research Center. Stewart is the author of award-winning books of poetry, as well as critical studies of literature and the visual arts. Stewart’s poetry collections include Red Rover and Columbarium. Her awards include the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the Christian Gauss Award for Literary Criticism, and the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism. She is the Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University. A 1997 MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Stewart recently served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. The evening began with a short reading by each of the three Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize contest winners: Abigail Fagan, Marissa Stanton, and Michael Stankiewicz, as well as the Early College Experience (ECE) Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize high school winner, Jennifer Carroll. After the student speakers read their pieces, Stewart took to the podium. She began by reading a poem by Wallace Stevens, who was a Connecticut native that worked in the insurance industry and wrote poetry. His poem described the beauty and history of Connecticut and made everyone in the audience feel very proud to be living in such an amazing state. Stewart spoke of how she started writing poetry at a very young age, and she was always looking for new ways to challenge herself. One of the poems that she read was a narrative which she originally wrote as a challenge between her and a friend to see who could successfully

    transform a novel into a poem. She had never really written narratives before, but she said that good writers are always challenging themselves. This was very great advice that could translate over to many other professions, as well. A favorite poem that Stewart read was called “The Apple.” She began the poem by saying that if she were to come back from the dead it would be to take a bite of an apple. She repeated this line later in the poem as well, which helped to add to the poem’s overall strength. “The Apple” featured a lot of religious imagery like a snake in the garden and coming back from the dead. She also named about a dozen different types of apples in the poem, most that many have never heard of, which was another way that she successfully captured one’s attention. There was a great amount of wit in each of her poems, as well, like when she said “An apple called ‘Delicious’ is anything but” during her reading of “The Apple.” Stewart joins a long line of Wallace Stevens Poetry Program poets that includes Paul Muldoon, Susan Howe, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Adrienne Rich, June Jordan, and Derek Walcott. On April 2nd, she gave a reading at this year’s partner high school, the Hartford Classical Magnet School, followed by an afternoon talk on poetry and translation at the UConn Humanities Institute.

    --Review by Sarah Nesci, Undergraduate Student

    Susan Stewart: 52nd Wallace Stevens Poetry Program

    allusions*

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    Koo’s poetry and many of the students were present in the audience. The class mainly focused on the poem “Giant Steps,” according to Nic DiBenedetto, a 5th-semester ecology and evolutionary biology major. “For this particular book I wanted to start with it because I was interested in his use of a big persona voice…there’s a kind of exuberance and energy and a really distinctive voice,” said Pelizzon. She wanted her students to draw inspiration from the over-the-top voice and use it in their own creative writing. According to Koo, persona wouldn’t be the most accurate term to describe his most recent book and finds that he uses persona more in his first book. He prefers to call them “projections.” “I really liked the way he read it. It was almost kind of enlightening because I feel like he kind of read it out loud in a way that helped me understand it a bit better,” said DiBenedetto. DiBenedetto also liked the fact that Koo included a quote from Kanye West’s song “Power” in his epigraph. “It really stuck out to me because I don’t see that a lot in poetry. It’s almost like you are having a conversation with him,” said DiBenedetto. According to Koo, Kanye West is right to say he is a genius because he “captures America” very well. “I think in particular for this book me quoting Kanye West as an epigraph is, like, very serious. It’s not ironic, some people think it’s ironic…” Nikki Barnhart, 21, a 7th-semester journalism major said, “I liked him as a person. I thought he was very personable and friendly and he related really well to the audience.” Barnhart had never heard Koo’s poetry before the reading, but found it “very real and conversational.” The event was sponsored by the Asian American Cultural Center, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, the English Department Speaker’s Fund, the Creative Writing Program and the UConn Co-op Bookstore.

    --Review by Reid DiRenzo, Undergraduate Student

    The first poetry reading of the UConn Creative Writing Program kicked off at the UConn Co-op Bookstore at 6 p.m. on September 10th with a speaker who brought both the funny, sad and terrifying side of poetry to campus. Jason Koo is a poet and assistant professor at Quinnipiac University who resides in Brooklyn Heights, New York City. He learned to get rid of his shyness through poetry and now enjoys sharing his passion with his students. Koo is the founder and director of the Brooklyn Poets, a non-profit organization helping poets learn through workshops and mentor programs like The Bridge. He won multiple awards for his first poetry book Man on Extremely Small Island including the Asian American Writer’s Workshop Members’ Choice Award and the De Novo Poetry Prize. Koo read to a UConn audience from his new book America’s Favorite Poem filling the night with laughter and a distinct personality. Koo also read a brand new poem called “Single Gay Uncle.” Koo’s poetry was inspired from his personal experiences being Asian American, like in his poem “Model Minority” and the poem “A Natural History of My Name.” The latter poem was inspired by the fact that there are an even amount of vowels and consonants in his name. Koo’s poetry was about topics very relatable to the average college student spanning from ex-girlfriends, unenthusiastically sitting through class and his cat named Django. Koo is often inspired by modern American society. “The first part of the book kind of reflects on American culture, consumerism and how we’re all terrible. How we’re all imperialistic in our own ways,” Koo said as the crowd laughed. The second half of the book is more personal, according to Koo, and reflects on the consequences of the aforementioned topics. Associate Professor of English Penelope Pelizzon asked Koo to speak on campus and had her English 1701 students, an introductory creative writing class, read

    Jason Koo Poetry Reading

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    collection The Vigil: A Poem in Four Voices was a finalist for the 1993 National Book Award in Poetry. During her years at UConn, Gibson was a member of the Creative Writing Program and served as chair of the Wallace Stevens Poetry Program for over a decade. “We’re thrilled to have Ms. Gibson back to read. She was a beloved member of our faculty here for many years, and instrumental in building interest in some of our key courses, like Nature Writing,” said Penelope Pelizzon, poet and Associate Professor of English at UConn. Pelizzon later introduced Gibson to the audience as a “former colleague and admired mentor,” and “one of the people who made me feel at home when I was hired.” After years of home care, Gibson now drives up every day to see her husband at the Chestnut Cottage Elms in Westerly, Rhode Island an assisted living care residence. She fondly recalled his occasional tendency to believe he is back in the classroom, which often leads to a spontaneous lecture. Gibson said she is actively writing and has a new project in the works.

    --Review by Cate Kohn, Undergraduate Student

    On September 2nd, UConn proudly welcomed back former professor and renowned poet Margaret Gibson for an honorary reading of her most recent book of poetry, Broken Cup. Gibson dedicated Broken Cup to her husband of 39 years, David McKain. The poems were written as part of her journey in coping with his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in 2007. Also a former UConn faculty member, McKain was a professor at the University for almost 30 years. During his retirement he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, an illness that also afflicted his mother and grandmother. In one of his own poems, “Spell Bound,” which Gibson read to the audience, McKain describes his own foreknowledge of the disease. “The odds are one out of five that I’ll lose my mind as well. The od